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After reading some of our recent posts regarding grilling here in the ‘States, one awesome reader named Freddie took the time to write in and tell us a bit about how BBQ works in his home of South Africa.  They call it “Braai” (as in br-eye), and while the recipes differ a bit from what we’re used to, one thing is exactly the same: the comeraderie of burning some meat with friends.

We wrote back to ask a few questions, and Freddie sent us a set of recipes, descriptions, and even photos the be kindly agreed to allow us to share with you.  So here you go: Freddie’s personal “Guide To A Good Braai.”

(Pictured: “A pretty traditional braai with a porkrib, some “boerewors” (the sausage) and a “potjie” (the pot).”

Freddie’s Three Rules Of A Good Braai 

  • Rule #1: Cilantro leaves suck. In any cooking. Always. If you like cilantro leaves, you suck too.
  • Rule #2: The person with the tongs is in charge.
  • Rule #3: After a long day of drinking, pouring beer on all the meat is OK.
  • (Exeption #1: Do not apply rule #3 to your wife’s meat.)

(Picture: “All you need is a rum and coke, a fire, and a grill.”)

The Fire

Make sure you have enough coals.  In daylight they should be covered in white ash and at night they should glow a bright red.  Try to use a hard wood — peach is good — or charcoal briquettes.  Charcoal is a waste of money and soft woods burn up all too quickly.  There is nothing that screws up a great evening like a fire that dies while your meat is still raw. 


(Picture: “This is a typically sized grill. We did four of those to feed one family…”)

Keep a cup of water handy to dribble on the flames that appear when the fat lands in the fire.  Use your fingers to shoot some water onto trouble spots.  But don’t use too much water or the fire will die.


(Picture: “No really: four for one family.”)

Read on to page two for “the meat.”

pages: 1 2 3 4


15 Responses to How-To: BBQ South African-Style

  1. TimG says:

    Very neat, Thanks for sharing!


  2. nrChris says:

    Wow. Fantastic. I am salivating. And could not agree more–cilantro is terrible. Too bad my wife loves it. This causes for many ongoing battles in and around the kitchen.

  3. jeff says:

    Would the other readers consider Braai like open pit BBQ? That’s kind of what I’m equating it too but I’ve never done either. All I know is that this post made me really hungry. I’m going to have to go find some meat products for lunch.

  4. jeff says:

    By the way, I love the Maker attitude that went into building the homemade grills in this post. It is inspiring me to crack out the welder and build my own grilling surface for the fire pit in the backyard.

  5. Chuck Cage says:

    Jeff: I recognized the similarity as well, but the recipes differ pretty signficantly. And I agree that Freddie’s attitude is contagious; it reminds us that all it takes to braai (or barbeque) is a desire and some friends to share the experience…

  6. Norm says:

    Awesome!! Printed it out and am looking to give it a try!!!! Thanks for the post.

  7. Matt says:

    This was a great article. My brother in law is from South Africa and has always mentioned how much he misses the food there. Our group of friends BBQ/GRILL probably twice a month and I have been looking for something to help my brother in law feel a little less homesick..He constantly mentions the sausage so now I have a recipe to make it with.

    Cilantro doesnt suck by way it just has to be used sparingly. In the right recipes it is great. Chop it finely throw it in some tequila with some minced garlic, some cumin and chili powder and tumeric and marinate some chicken in it over night….Great stuff.

  8. Jan says:

    To make your experience more complete, try to get “pap” or maize meal from a specialist shop or your local SA-goodies shop and cook it as a side-dish for your braai.

    There is different ways to cook your pap: Putu pap, smooth pap, etc. It all have to do with the amount of water you add.

    Why not try “paptert” or (porrage tart – literally translated)!

    To make putu pap you need 2 cups water, a pinch of salt, 3-4 cups mealie/maize meal. Bring the water and salt to boil and add the maize meal. Reduce the heat to medium heat and then put the lid on. Stir and replace lid. Leave for more or less 10 minutes until it is well-cooked. Serve as a side-dish with a braai. Add a tomato-onion-and-herb-with-salt-sause with it and you have your traditional side-dish with your meat. Nice!

    Alternatively, try a paptert: It is basically a salty tart with the main ingredient of pap or maize meal. Make the pap as instructed as on the packaging (Note: not as putu pap!!!). Then, when finished, do the following:
    Fry one chopped onion with a a few handful of chopped mushrooms until soft and brown in a little bit of oil. Add 3 freshly chopped tomatoes to it.

    Now this is the important part:
    Take a baking caserole and pack as follows:
    Pack one level of filling, then a level of pap and then a level of nice medium chedder cheese. Repeat until you packed the lot with the last top level that of cheese. On top, add 250 ml cream and add some nice herbs.

    Put in oven until the cheese melted with a crisp brown layer. Serve. Nice!

  9. Ron says:

    Re: all parts were used, including the trotters
    I’m afraid to ask what “trotters” are, but my life won’t be complete until I know. A little help here.

  10. Freddie says:

    trotters= feet.

  11. wifflemom says:

    Jeff was right, after reading that article, my mouth watered for some grilled anything! Nice article and nice of Freddie to share his pics of what was obviously a great family get together. They are the same everywhere on every continent, and the grill reminded me of old memories from my own past with chicken grilling….and he’s right, anyone who can grill a chicken properly is a barbeque god!

  12. A. Lerner says:

    I work for Men’s Health magazine, and I’m working on a piece about South African BBQ. I would love to set up a brief phone interview with the author of this post. Please let me know if that’s possible by emaling me at the address listed above. Thank you!

  13. Freddie says:

    Jammer Boet, I don’t do interviews.

  14. Marky says:

    If you guys are ever in London, England, I recommend hitting up a company called “South African BBQ.” They do catering and have a food place in Stables Market in Camden.

    They sell bad ass biltong too! MSG free and cheapest around.


  15. Zach Jackson says:

    amazing bbq pictures. Who needs to sit in traffic and go to Lowes to buy an expensive bbq?

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